Friday, March 18, 2016

Pierre-Marc Bouchard Swatch Card

After a season where he led his team - the Swiss NLA's Zug EV - in scoring and winning the league's MVP award, former Minnesota Wild standout Pierre-Marc Bouchard has decided to retire at age 31 from post-concussion issues.

He had only just begun to fill out the promise of being an impact player (I used to compare him to Mike Ribeiro, a terrific playmaker who had decent hands enough to make nice plays and deke - not the best shot, but perfect for setting up a teammate) when he suffered his first concussion, which took him a year and a half to recover from; he had suffered it in the very first game of the 2009-10 season and came back in December of the following year, posting a decent 38 points in 59 games in 2010-11.

After two more injury-filled seasons with the team that had picked him 8th overall in 2002, he signed with the New York Islanders for the 2013-14 season, but after posting just 9 points in 28 games, he was sent to the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, where he found his game and produced at a rate of 17 points in 20 games... before the Isles gave up on him and traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks, who also parked him in the AHL, this time with the Rockford IceHogs, with whom he had 20 points in 24 games.

That wasn't enough to convince faint-hearted NHL GMs to take a chance on him, and he signed with Zug, whom he led in scoring in both years he was there, first with 51 points in 49 games, and 67 points in the same number of games last year.

I have more cards of his to feature in the future, but I'll start with this odd one, which isn't necessarily a jersey swatch, showing him in the Wild's green uniform, on card #SS-PB from Fleer's 2006-07 Flair Showcase collection and Showcase Stitches sub-set, by Upper Deck:
It could be a piece of a jersey, or a fight strap, or part of the inner lining - or a sock. The back of the card just vaguely calls it "memorabilia", but what he know for sure is that it's got enough holes to see the glue inside the card, and that the hole it's sticking out of is shaped like an "S".

All told, Bouchard retires with 356 points (110 of them goals) in 593 NHL games (plus 4-5-9 in 21 playoff games) on a defensively-minded Wild team, mostly. He had Selke votes in 2006-07 and Lady Byng votes three times, finishing fifth in voting in 2006-07.

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